Emperor Nicholas II on Facebook

CLICK on the IMAGE above to view and follow my Nicholas II Facebook page

In April 2016, I launched a Facebook account dedicated to the life and reign of Emperor Nicholas II. Each day, I create up to a dozen new posts: with news – translated into English from Russian media sources – plus, contemporary and vintage photos, videos and newsreels, as well as new book announcements.

My updates present new monuments, portraits, and exhibitions and more about Nicholas II and his family – which do not appear on this blog. To date, there are more than 6,000 colour and black & white photos on my Nicholas II Facebook page!

I currently have 5,000 Facebook friends – the maximum that FB will allow – plus, an additional 2,000 followers, from all over the world. Friends are permitted to comment on posts and engage in discussions with others. It is a perfect “watering hole” for those of us who seek the truth about Russia’s much slandered Tsar.

Please note, that as I have already reached the maximum number of friends that Facebook will allow me, you can still become a “FOLLOWER” of my FB page.

Simply CLICK on the IMAGE above, which will redirect you to my FB page, whereupon you CLICK on the FOLLOW button. This will ensure that you receive instant updates on all new posts, however, you will not be able to comment on them. You always have the option to send a FRIEND REQUEST at a later date.

Please join me today, in celecrating the life, reign and era of Russia’s last Emperor and Tsar!

© Paul Gilbert. 31 October 2022

Orthodox cross consecrated in memory of Nicholas II and his family near Tyumen

PHOTO: Chairman of the Elisabeth-Sergei Educational Society Foundation (ESPO) Anna Gromova and Metropolitan Dimitry of Tobolsk and Tyumen pose with parishioners, in front of the memorial cross in the village of Ievlevo

At 4 am on 26th (O.S. 13th) April 1918, Emperor Nicholas II, Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, along with their daughter Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna, and several retainers departed Tobolsk for their journey to Ekaterinburg. Their first stop enroute was at the village of Ievlevo, where they spent the night under the watchful gaze of a convoy of Bolshevik convicts and thugs.

On 31st October 2022, a memorial cross was installed and consecrated in the village of Ievlevo, situated in the Yarkovsky district near Tyumen. The consecration of the cross was performed by Metropolitan Dimitry of Tobolsk and Tyumen.

The cross and metal plaque were installed on the grounds of the future Church of the Archangel Michael, which is currently under. construction. Once completed, the Elisabeth-Sergei Educational Society Foundation (ESPO), has pledged to create a museum and a spiritual and educational pilgrimage center. The memorial cross and future museum will become part of the Imperial Route.

According to Deputy Governor of the Tyumen Region Andrey Panteleev, when Anna Gromova began work on the Imperial Route, Tyumen and Tobolsk were designated as the main locations, and the Museum of the Family of Nicholas II (opened in April 2018) became the pearl of the Imperial Route in the Tyumen Region.

“It is very important that the Imperial Route should include the places associated with the Holy Royal Martyrs were. Many regions across Russia are taking part in this unique project, which will allow both Russians and foreigners to learn about the life and times of the last Tsar and his family”, – added Panteleev.

The Tyumen Region currently features a number of museums and monuments to Emperor Nicholas II and his family: including the Monument to the Holy Royal Martyrs, established in Tyumen in 2017; and the Tsar’s Pier Museum, which includes one room dedicated to the Imperial Family, which includes photos, letters and more.

PHOTO: church utensils used for the consecration of the cross memorial

PHOTO: Metropolitan Dimitry of Tobolsk and Tyumen performs the consecration of the cross memorial

***

It was on 17th (O.S. 4th) August 1917, that the Imperial Family arrived in Tyumen, after being sent into exile from the Alexander Palace at Tsarskoye Selo, on 14th (O.S. 1st( August.

It was on this day that the two trains carrying Nicholas II, his family, and servants arrived in the evening at Tyumen. The following day, they sailed up the rivers Tur, Tobol and Irtysh on the steamer ‘Rus’, to Tobolsk.

Nicholas wrote in his diary: “We advanced unbelievably slowly, in order to reach Tyumen late at night. There the train went right up to the jetty, so that we were able to get straight onto the steamer.

“Ours is called ‘Rus’! They started loading our things, which took all night. God only knows when poor Alexei got to bed again? The bustle and noise went on all through the night and prevented me from getting to sleep. We left Tyumen at about 6 o’clock.”

Upon arrival in Tobolsk, the Imperial family were placed under house arrest in the former governors house until April 1918. On 30th (O.S. 17th) April 1918, Emperor Nicholas II, Empress Alexandra Feodorovna and Grand Duchess Maria were handed over to the Ural Soviets in Ekaterinburg.

PHOTO: a metal plaque informs pilgrims and visitors that the Tsar and his family stopped here for one night in April 1918, on their journey to Ekaterinburg, where they would meet a martyr’s death on 17th July

© Paul Gilbert. 31 October 2022

Nicholas II plants oak trees at the Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral, April 1913

PHOTO: Emperor Nicholas II, his family and retinue planting seven oak trees on the square, in front of the Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral at Tsarskoye Selo, 1913

Construction of the house church of the Imperial Family at Tsarskoye Selo

The Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral was constructed between 1909 – 1912 by order of Emperor Nicholas II, to serve as the regimental church of His Imperial Majesty’s Own Convoy. In addition, the cathedral served as the house church for the Imperial family, while they were in residence in the Alexander Palace.

Construction of the Cathedral began in 1908, financed by Emperor Nicholas II, who contributed 150,000 gold rubles, a considerable sum, from his own personal funds.

On 2nd September (O.S. 20th August) 1909, Nicholas II laid the first foundation stone. The solemn Divine Liturgy was performed by His Grace Theophan, Bishop of Yamburg, attended by the Emperor and members of his family. The Cathedral was built in the old Russian style. Three years later, on the same day in 1912, the Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral was consecrated.

An alley lined with fragrant linden trees ran from the cathedral to the Imperial Railway Pavilion nearby. Sadly, in the 1950s, the largest lime trees were transported to the replanted on Nevsky Prospekt in Leningrad [St. Petersburg].

PHOTO: Emperor Nicholas II, his family and retinue planting seven oak trees on the square, of the Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral at Tsarskoye Selo, 1913

The Imperial Family plant oak trees on the grounds of the Cathedral

On 4th May (O.S. 21st April) 1913, Emperor Nicholas II and his family planted a group of oak trees on the grounds of the Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral. It was one of many events marking the 300th anniversary of the Romanov Dynasty, held that year throughout the Russian Empire, in which the Tsar and his family took part. A total of seven trees were planted that day, with each member of the Imperial Family, beginning with the Tsar, planting a single oak tree each.

The trees were planted on the grounds of the square, which is situated on the southern facade of the Cathedral. It was through this square, that the Imperial Family arrived at the Cathedral, entering via the Royal Porch. During the winter months, when the days saw little daylight, the square was illuminated with lanterns, giving it a serene ambiance.

Of the seven trees planted, only four have survived to the present day, the other three were cut down during the Nazi German occupation of Pushkin [Tsarskoye Selo, 1941-44].

The four oaks can be seen behind a bust-monument to Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II – the first to be installed in post-Soviet Russia. A stone marker and plaque [see photo at the end of this article] mark the spot, where they were planted more than a century ago. It is nothing short of a miracle that they have survived.

PHOTO: Russia’s first monument to Nicholas II was consecrated on 17th July 1993, on the grounds of the Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral at Tsarskoye Selo

The first monument to Nicholas II in post-Soviet Russia

Situated in the garden [square] behind the Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral at Tsarskoye Selo, is a bust-monument to Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II, the work of St. Petersburg sculptor Victor Vladimirovich Zaiko (born 1944).

Installed and consecrated on 17th July 1993, it was the first monument to Nicholas II to be erected in Post-Soviet Russia. Since its installation nearly 30 years ago, more than 100 monuments, busts and memorials to Russia’s last Tsar, have been installed across the Russian Federation.

As previously noted, the bust-monument stands in front of the four surviving oak trees, seen in the background, which were planted by Nicholas II and his family on 4th May (O.S. 21st April) 1913.

The monument was consecrated on 17th July 1993, the day marking the 75th anniversary of the death and martyrdom of Nicholas II and his family.

PHOTO: view of Russia’s first monument to Nicholas II and the remaining oak trees which he and his family planted in 1913, on the grounds of the Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral

PHOTO: a wider view of the four remaining oak trees, planted by Nicholas II and his family in 1913, on the grounds of the Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral

PHOTO: a stone marker reads [translation]: 21 April / 4 May 1913. On this spot the Holy Royal Martyrs Sovereign Emperor Nicholas II, Sovereign Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, Tsesarevich Alexei and Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia planted seven memorial oaks.

© Paul Gilbert. 25 October 2022

FDR wanted to buy Livadia Palace in final days of WWII

PHOTO: FDR arriving at Livadia Palace in February 1945

On 22nd April 2017, a bust of Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945), the 32nd President of the United States commonly known as FDR, was unveiled in Yalta, Crimea on a street named in his honour.

Back in the 1960s, one of Yalta’s oldest streets was named after Franklin D. Roosevelt. The city authorities decided to commemorate the 32nd US president’s participation in the 1945 Yalta Conference of the “Big Three” leaders of the anti-Hitler coalition.

Roosevelt impressed by Crimea

The 1945 Yalta Conference was held in the Palace of Livadia, the former residence of Emperor Nicholas II and his family, situated on the southern coast of Crimea, overlooking the Black Sea.

It was at Livadia Palace, where the largest group of the US delegation was housed. The reason for the decision to accommodate the American delegation in the Livadia Palace was because of the physical condition of the US leader who had been bound to a wheelchair after contracting polio in 1921.

The palace left a great impression on the American leader. In fact, according to a transcript of a conversation with Stalin in February 1945, Roosevelt said that he felt very well in Livadia and stated that when he would no longer be president, he would like to ask the Soviet government to sell Livadia to him. He noted that he was fond of breeding trees and would plant lots of them in the hills around the palace’s vicinity.

“Roosevelt’s personal apartment was located on the ground floor and he could move around by himself, quite easily. It should be noted however that a slight lapse in security was permitted as the delegation and its leader were accommodated where the sessions were being held. Though the frontline was far away, security measures during the conference were unprecedentedly tight,” says Dmitry Blintsov, a research fellow at the Livadia Palace museum’s exhibition department.

PHOTO: Churchill, FDR and Stalin pose for photos in the Italian Courtyard of Livadia Palace, February 1945

The Livadia Palace and its picturesque park impressed the US leader so much that he asked Stalin, in earnest or not, to sell it to him. The transcript of Roosevelt’s personal meeting with Stalin of February 4, 1945 puts it as follows:

“Roosevelt says he feels very well in Livadia. When he is no longer president, he would like to ask the Soviet government to sell Livadia to him. He is fond of gardening. He would plant lots of trees in the hills around Livadia.”

Roosevelt arrived in Yalta accompanied by his daughter Anna. Winston Churchill’s daughter, Sarah, and one of the daughters of US Ambassador to Russia Averell Harriman, Kathleen, were also there. “I think their daughters provided psychological support to their fathers after the long and heated political debates so far away from their homes,” the historian suggests.

Nevertheless, despite the positive impressions from Livadia, upon returning home Roosevelt said that he had been shocked to see the devastation that the German Nazi forces had inflicted on Crimea.

“During my stay in Yalta, I saw the kind of reckless, senseless fury, the terrible destruction that comes out of German militarism… And even the humblest of the homes of Yalta were not spared… I had read about Warsaw and Lidice and Rotterdam and Coventry—but I saw Sevastopol and Yalta! And I know that there is not room enough on earth for both German militarism and Christian decency” – said FDR, in his address to Congress, 1945.

© Paul Gilbert. 24 October 2022

ROC delays decision on Ekaterinburg Remains “INDEFINITELY!”

PHOTO: His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia presides over the meeting of Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow, 2017

On 25th August 2022, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church announced that it has once again postponed the dates for the Bishops’ Council meeting – which was scheduled to meet in Moscow next month – and has now been postponed “indefinitely”, citing the “current situation in the world”.

“Since the international situation continues to make it difficult for many members of the Bishops’ Council to arrive in Moscow [from foreign countries], a decision has been made to postpone the meeting indefinitely . . . ” the Synod’s resolution states (Journal No. 66) dated 25th August 2022.

Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patrairchate) from more than 70 countries cannot travel to Moscow, due to Western sanctions, which have banned air travel to Russia from many countries around the world.

The Bishops’ Council was originally scheduled to meet in Moscow from 15th to 18th November 2021, however, this was delayed “due to the difficult COVID-19 situation.” The meeting was thus rescheduled for 26th to 29th May 2022. This meeting was also delayed due to the Russian-Ukranian conflict, and postponed until the end of 2022.

A key item on the agenda of the Bishops’ Council meeting is a definitive decision of the Church on the authenticity of the Ekaterinburg remains.

The Council of Bishops is the highest body of the hierarchical administration of the Russian Orthodox Church. The Council reviews and approves church dogmas, determines the position of the Russian Orthodox Church on important issues of public life. Thus, at the council of 2000, a decision was made to canonize more than a thousand new martyrs – which included Emperor Nicholas II and his family.

According to the charter of the Russian Orthodox Church, the Council of Bishops is convened at least once every four years. The previous council took place in Moscow, from 29th November to 2nd December 2017. Between councils, issues of church life are decided by the Holy Synod, which meets every four months.

PHOTO: on 29th November 2017, some 347 bishops from across Russia and around the world, took part in the Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow

As of 2019, the Russian Orthodox Church was present in 77 countries – including Russia; with 309 dioceses (of which 19 are in foreign countries); 382 bishops; 40,514 clerics (35,677 presbyters, 4,837 deacons); 38,649 churches or other places of worship where Divine Liturgy is served, not including 977 parishes abroad; 1012 monasteries (972 monasteries in the canonical territory (474 ​​male, 498 female) and 40 in other countries); 5,883 monks and 9,687 nuns (including cassocks) live in monasteries; 5 academies and 50 seminaries in which, at the beginning of the 2018-2019 academic year, approx. 14 thousand students; OK. 11,000 Sunday schools with over 175,000 pupils; 145 Orthodox educational organizations; almost 150 maternity protection centers; there are 70 rehabilitation centers, 18 resocialization centers, 67 counseling centers for drug addicts; over 90 shelters for the homeless; there are 10 mercy buses (mobile points for helping the homeless); over 450 charity canteens; more than 160 church humanitarian centers; more than 450 sisterhoods of mercy; over 500 volunteer charity groups; more than 250 charitable voluntary associations of various profiles.

According to the Press Service of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, the Bishops, members of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church will return to this issue, when they meet again in December.

Sadly, whatever decision the Bishops’ Council makes, it is sure to cause a schism among Believers who are divided on the authenticity of the remains. Many still adhere to Nikolai Alekseevich Sokolov’s (1882-1924) theory that the bodies of the Imperial Family were completely destroyed with fire and acid at the Four Brothers Mine.

***

BONES OF CONTENTION (Revised Edition)
The Russian Orthodox Church and the Ekaterinburg Remains
By Paul Gilbert

CLICK HERE TO ORDER FROM AMAZON

Full-colour covers, 206 pages + 90 black & white photographs

Originally published in 2020, this NEW REVISED & EXPANDED 2021 EDITION features an additional 40+pages, new chapters and 90 black and white photos. It is the most up-to-date source on the highly contentious issue of the Russian Orthodox Church and their position on the Ekaterinburg Remains.

The world awaits a decision by the Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church, who will meet in Moscow at some point, during which they will review the findings of the Investigative Commission and deliver their verdict on the authenticity of the Ekaterinburg Remains.

The reopening of the investigation into the death of Nicholas II and his family in 2015, caused a wave of indignation against the Russian Orthodox Church. This book presents the position of both the Moscow Patriarchate and the Investigation Committee.

This is the first English language title to explore the position of the Orthodox Church in Russia with regard to the Ekaterinburg remains. The author’s research for this book is based exclusively on documents from Russian media and archival sources.

This unique title features an expanded introduction by the author, and eight chapters, on such topics as the grounds for the canonization of Nicholas II and his family by the Moscow Patriarchate in 2000; comparative details of the Sokolov investigation in 1919, and the investigations carried out in the 1990s to the present; reluctance of the Moscow Patriarchate to officially recognize the remains as authentic; interesting findings of Russian journalist, producer and screenwriter Elena Chavchavadze in her documentary Regicide. A Century of Investigation; and the author’s own attempt to provide some answers to this ongoing and long drawn-out investigation for example: “Will Alexei and Maria be buried with the rest of their family?” and “Will the Imperial Family remains be reinterred in a new cathedral in Ekaterinburg?”.

This new revised and expanded edition also includes two NEW chapters!

Interviews with Vladimir Soloviev, Chief Major Crimes Investigator for the Central Investigate Department of the Public Prosecution Office of the Russian Federation and Archpriest Oleg Mitrov, a member of the Synodal Commission for the Canonization of Saints – BOTH key players in the Ekaterinburg remains case, reveal the political undertones of this to this ongoing and long drawn-out investigation.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Independent researcher Paul Gilbert has spent more than 25+ years researching and writing about the Russian Imperial Family. His primary research is focused on the life, reign and era of Nicholas II. On 17th July 1998, he attended the tsar’s interment ceremony at the SS Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg. Twenty years later, he attended the Patriarchal Liturgy on the night of 16/17 July 2018, held at the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg. Since his first visit to the Urals in 2012, he has brought prayers and flowers to both Ganina Yama and Porosenkov Log on numerous occasions.

© Paul Gilbert. 20 October 2022

The Children’s Island and Pavilion at Tsarskoye Selo

PHOTO: This early 20th century photo of the Children’s Island, clearly shows the Pavilion, the granite piers and the pull-ferry

Situated just a short walk from the Western Wing of the Alexander Palace at Tsarskoye Selo, stands a tiny island in one of the lakes and ponds which dot the Alexander Park. It is dominated by a tiny dilapidated toy-like house.

The island and pond were created in 1817, by the famous Scottish architect and landscape gardener Adam Menelaws (1753-1831), it is a peaceful setting, lush and green, with tall, mature trees which offer a cool shade from the hot afternoon sun.

In the summer of 1824, the island was presented to the children of Grand Duke Nicholas Pavlovich (future Emperor Nicholas I) by his brother, Emperor Alexander I.

The tiny pavilion was constructed in the Empire Style in 1830, according to a design by the architect Alexei Gornostayev (1808-1862). The pavilion had two entrances, one of which had a white wooden awning and porch, neither of which has survived.

PHOTO: Two of the grand duchesses paddling on the pond which surrounds the island. You can clearly see the white awning and porch, neither of which have survived

The interior consisted of a drawing room, complete with two white ceramic tile fireplaces, the ceilings painted in the Empire Style, and parquet floors decorated with beautiful carpets. Four furnished smaller rooms adjoined the drawing room.

In 1904, the pavilion was wired for electricity, a telephone was installed with a direct line to the Alexander Palace.

The island was separated from the mainland, with small granite pier on each side. From the shoreline, the island could be reached by a pull-ferry, whereby sailors would pull ropes sending the ferry and its passengers over to the island and back.

For nearly a century, the island and pavilion became a summer refuge for the children of four successive emperors: Nicholas I, Alexander II, Alexander III and Nicholas II.

While the Children’s Island was off-limits to adults, it was in fact enjoyed by all generations of the Imperial family. In April 1895, Nicholas II and his young wife “got up early and sat a long time at the Children’s Island, enjoying the weather.” A few days later the young couple, took a small boat through the channels of the Alexander Park, “peaceful…drank tea together on the Children’s Island. The happiness is indescribable.” In April 1896, Nicholas II wrote in his diary: “I worked at the Children’s Island in the snow.”

PHOTO: The pet cemetery, consisting of four graves is situated on the western side of the island

In the late 19th century, the Imperial family built a cemetery on the western side of the island, where they buried their beloved canine companions. The gravestones have survived to this day.

The names and dates of each of the family dogs are still clearly visible:

Шилка ▪ Shilka
1894-1910
Иманъ ▪ Iman
December 6, 1895 – October 2, 1902
Воронъ ▪ Voron
December 1889 – September 1895
Эра ▪ Era
1894 – 1906

Click HERE to read my article Nicholas II’s canine companions, originally published on 22nd May 2021

PHOTO: Emperor Nicholas II, Tsesarevich Alexei, two of theGrand Duchesses, an unknown soldier, and one the family dogs a black Boston Terrier, travelling across to the island on the pull-ferry. This photo was taken during the Imperial family’s house arrest in the Alexander Palace in 1917. The family’s freedom was restricted within the Alexander Park.

PHOTO: Tsesarevich Alexei Nikolaevich, posing with a cigarette in his mouth, while leaning against the granite pier and pull-ferry, during the Imperial Family’s house arrest in 1917

Even after their father’s abdication in March 1917, and the restrictions placed on them during their house arrest at the Alexander Palace, the children still visited the Children’s Island. “Papa walks on the outer reaches of the garden where they chop and saw dry trees. Alexei plays on the Children’s Island, runs barefoot and sometimes swims,” wrote Grand Duchess Olga to her friend, Pyotr Petrov, 19th June, 1917.

PHOTO: The current state of the Children’s Island, which shows the dilapidated state of the pavilion, the doors and windows boarded up. The granite piers are overgrown with weeds, the pull-ferry long gone

The Children’s Pavilion has sat in a terrible state of decline and disrepair for decades. In the 1990s, it became a popular hangout for the homeless and drug users. They left the interiors in a horrid state. The pavilion has since been boarded up. According to Ekaterina Eparinova, a research historian at Tsarskoye Selo, the palace-museum have plans to restore the island and pavilion once they can secure funding.

PHOTO: Paul Gilbert standing on the frozen pond, between the shoreline and the island. What a marvellous experience it was for this author to explore the island, pavilion and cemetery

During my winter visits to Tsarskoye Selo, I have on two occasions walked across the ice and explored the Children’s Island and Pavilion. I took many photos of the Pavilion, as well as the pet cemetery, some of which I in ‘Royal Russia’ No. 4 (pgs. 1-10) in 2013.

© Paul Gilbert. 16 October 2022

SOVEREIGN to resume publication in January 2023

After an absence of nearly four years, I am pleased to announce that my semi-annual periodical Sovereign: The Life and Reign of Emperor Nicholas II will resume publication next year. The next issue – the No. 12 issue – will be published in January 2023.

Between 2015 and 2019, I published a total of 11 issues of this unique publication, dedicated to the study of the life and reign of Russia’s last Tsar. The last issue, No. 11, was issued in February 2019, and the series was cancelled later that year.

Many readers could not understand, why I cancelled SOVEREIGN, so let me explain . . . I did not cancel the series because it was unpopular, on the contrary, I was forced to cancel the series due to the rising costs of printing this product here in Canada, in addition to Canada Post’s outrageous foreign shipping rates. For example, the rate to ship a single copy of SOVEREIGN to the United States was $12, while the rate to UK, Europe, and other international countries was a whopping $22!

Now, thanks to my publishing venture with AMAZON, I can resume publication, and make it available worldwide through AMAZON, while taking advantage of their much more affordable postage rates.

The No. 12 issue, which will be published in January 2023, will feature the following full-length articles – among others, that have yet to be announced:

[1] Mikhail Rodzianko: Gravedigger of the Russian Empire by Andrei Ivanov

[2] Nikolai Sokolov’s Report to Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna on the Investigation into the Deaths of Emperor Nicholas II and his Family

[3] Memorial Museums to Nicholas II in Post-Soviet Russia by Paul Gilbert

[4] They Were the Last to Help the Tsar’s Family in Ekaterinburg by Abbess Dominica (Korobeinikova)

[5] Loyal to Their Sovereign: Generals Who Did Not Betray Nicholas II in 1917 by Paul Gilbert

[6] Family Disloyalty: Nicholas II and the Vladimirovichi by Paul Gilbert

SOVEREIGN No. 12 will be issued in the same 8-1/2″ x 11″ paperback format, 130+ pages, and richly illustrated, English text. The price of each new issue will be $20 USD – a savings of $5 over previous issues.

It is important for me to note, that the upcoming 2nd International Nicholas II Conference and the revival of SOVEREIGN, are both integral tools in my personal commitment to help clear the name of Russia’s much slandered Tsar. Not only is the publication of this unique periodical, a project which is near and dear to my heart and soul, SOVEREIGN will continue to be a valuable resource for Western historians and researchers, and to those who share an interest in the life and reign of Russia’s last Tsar.

For those of you, who are unfamiliar with SOVEREIGN: each issue features first English translations of new works by a new generation of post-Soviet Russian historians. Since the opening of the Romanov archives in 1991, they have managed to unearth previously unknown historic diaries, letters and documents on the life and reign of Nicholas II. Their research is now helping to debunk the many popular held negative assessments of Nicholas II, which continue to endure in the West, more than a century after his death and martyrdom.

NOTE: the only remaining copies of back issues of SOVEREIGN, Nos. 1 to 11, can still be purchased from Amazon.com (United States) and Booksellers van Hoogstraten (The Hague, Netherlands).

© Paul Gilbert. 13 October 2022

October 12th marks the birth and death of a Romanov traitor

PHOTO: obituary notice on the death of Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich (1876-1938)

On 12th October 1876, Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich was born. Ironically, on 12th October 1938, he died in exile, aged 62.

Kirill was born on 12th October [O.S. 30th September] 1876, at the Vladimir Villa, the country residence of his parents at Tsarskoye Selo. He was the second of five children born to Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich (1847-1909) and his wife Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna (1854-1920), born Duchess Marie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin.

Kirill was a grandson of Emperor Alexander II (1818-1881) and a first cousin of Emperor Nicholas II. He was also the uncle of Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark (1906-1968) and great-uncle of Prince Michael of Kent (born 1942).

In the service of the Fatherland

After graduating from the Sea Cadet Corps and Nikolaev Naval Academy, in January 1904, Kirill was promoted to Chief of Staff to the Pacific Fleet in the Imperial Russian Navy. With the start of the Russo-Japanese War, he was assigned to serve as First Officer on the battleship Petropavlovsk, but the ship was blown up by a Japanese mine at Port Arthur in April 1904. Kirill barely escaped with his life, and was invalided out of the service suffering from burns, back injuries and shell shock.

From 1909–1912, Kirill served on the cruiser Oleg and was its captain in 1912. In 1913, he joined the Maritime Division of the Imperial Guard and was made Commander of the Naval Guards in 1915. He achieved the rank of rear admiral in the Imperial Navy in 1916, a position which he later abandoned.

PHOTO: Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich and Grand Duchess Victoria Feodorovna

An unholy alliance

During the festivities marking the Coronation of Emperor Nicholas II, held in Moscow in May 1896, Kirill fell in love with his paternal first cousin, Princess Victoria Melita of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (1876-1936). They flirted with each other at the balls and celebrations, but Victoria Melita was already married to Ernest Louis, Grand Duke of Hesse (1868-1937), the only brother of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna.

Victoria’s father was Alfred, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (1844-1900), the second eldest son of Queen Victoria. Victoria’s mother was Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna (1853-1920), a daughter of Emperor Alexander II and Kirill’s paternal aunt. Victoria Melita scandalized the royal families of Europe when she divorced her husband in 1901.

On 8th October 1905, Kirill entered into an incestuous marriage [forbidden by the Russian Orthodox Church] with the divorced Victoria Melita. The marriage caused a scandal within the Russian Imperial Family, as well as in the Royal Courts of Europe and Great Britain.

The couple wed without the formal approval of Britain’s King Edward VII (as the Royal Marriages Act 1772 would have required), and in defiance of Emperor Nicholas II by not obtaining his consent. Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna wrote that she felt “responsible for having arranged the marriage of Ducky and Kirill,” a decision she regretted.

Nicholas II punished Kirill, by stripping him of his offices and honours, also initially banishing the couple from Russia. Together with their two daughters, the family settled in Paris before they were allowed to visit Russia. In 1910, they returned to Russia, whereupon the Emperor recognized Victoria Melita as Grand Duchess Victoria Feodorovna.

Despite the family reconciliation, the strained relationship which had already existed for many years between Nicholas and Alexandra with Kirill and Victoria, would remain strained and even hostile.

Revolution and betrayal

Even before Emperor Nicholas II’s abdication, Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich was one of the first Russian officers to commit an act of betrayal to his oath of loyalty to the Sovereign and to his dynastic duty.

While commanding the Marine of the Guard, which was responsible for guarding the Empress Alexandra and her children at Tsarskoye Selo, Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich with his tsarist monogram on his epaulettes and a red ribbon on his shoulders, under which the Marine of the Guard followed their commander, appeared on 1st March, at the State Duma, where he reported to Duma Chairman M.V. Rodzianko. “I have the honour of appearing before Your Excellency, I am at your disposal, as is the entire nation. I wish Russia only good.” Then he stated that the Marine of the Guard was at the complete disposal of the State Duma. Kirill then authorized the flying of a red flag over his palace on Glinka Street in Petrograd.

Prior to that, the Grand Duke sent notes to the chiefs of the military units at Tsarskoye Selo, with a proposal “to join the new government”, following his own example.

In June 1917, Grand Duke Kirill was the first Romanov to flee Russia, along with his pregnant wife and their two children. Not only was his desertion “illegal”, Kirill, who was serving as a rear admiral in active military service in a country at war, had thus abandoned his honour and dignity. It is interesting to add, that the Kirillovich were the only branch of the Imperial Family who managed to escape the Bolsheviks, without losing any family members.

In exile, on 8th August 8, 1922, Kirill declared himself “guardian of the Russian throne”. On 13th September 1924, he proclaimed himself “Emperor of All Russia” to the now non-existent Russian throne under the name of “Kirill I”. He became known as the “Soviet Tsar” because in the event of a restoration of the monarchy, he intended to keep some of the features of the Soviet regime.

In addition, is Kirill’s shameful infidelity—an affair which involved his behaviour or relationship far more sensational and unorthodox than a simple casual affair with another woman—a possible homosexual liaison perhaps?

Not only was Grand Duke Kirill a coward, he was clearly a man who lacked a moral compass and a traitor to his Sovereign and to Russia. His acts of treason and desertion, and later his support of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis during his years in exile, thus deprived his descendants any rights to the Russian throne.

PHOTO: the tomb of Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich, in the Grand Ducal Mausoleum of the Peter and Paul Fortress in St. Petersburg

Legacy

Grand Duke Kirill was initially buried at the ducal mausoleum at Friedhof am Glockenberg, Coburg.  Following the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the remains of Kirill and Victoria were transferred from Coburg to the Grand Ducal Mausoleum of the Peter and Paul Fortress in St. Petersburg on 7 March 1995 after negotiations and great expense, thanks to the efforts of his Spanish-born granddaughter Princess Maria Vladimirovna.

84 years after his death, Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich remains one of the most despised members of the Russian Imperial Family. While some believe that he was a beacon for a restoration of the monarchy in Russia, his record of treason simply cannot be overlooked or swept under the rug, by those who work so diligently to whitewash his legacy.

During the 1920s until his death in 1938, his only adherants, were known as the Kirillists. Today, they are known as Legitimists – a small group of zealots – most of whom are American, and have no say whatsoever in the monarchist debate in modern day Russia. They work tirelessly to keep Kirill from falling from the pedestal, which this insignificant group of nutters has placed him on.

Despite what the Legitimists claim on their blog and social media, neither Kirill, nor his descendants Maria Vladimirovna and her pompous arrogant son George Mikhailovich, are very popular in post-Soviet Russia. Most Russians – including monarchists – dismiss their claims as “pretenders” to the non-existent Russian throne. Their activities in Russia attract a lot of media attention, in particular the wedding of George Mikhailovich to Rebecca Bettarini in St. Petersburg on 1st October 2021.

Under no pretext can we admit to the throne those whose ancestors belonged to parties involved in the 1917 revolution in one way or another. Nor can we admit those whose ancestors betrayed Tsar Nicholas II. Nor can we ignore those who ancestors openly supported the Nazis. Thus, without any reservations, the right to the succession to the throne of the Kirillovich branch should be excluded!

Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich is the subject of my forthcoming book ‘Traitor to the Tsar! Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich and Nicholas II‘, the first comprehensive study to examine the relationship between Grand Duke Kirill and his first cousin Tsar Nicholas II. It is based primarily on documents and letters retrieved from Russian archival and media sources, many of which will be new to the English reader.

My book was scheduled for publication this year, however, my cancer diagnosis, followed by surgery, recovery at home and six months of chemotherapy combined, put this new book project on hold. In recent months, I have acquired some new documents from Russian sources – at great expense, I might add! – which I am now having translated into English, in order to incorporate some of their findings in my book.

© Paul Gilbert. 12 October 2022

The Russian House of Emperor Nicholas II in Belgrade, Serbia

PHOTO: the main entrance to Russian House in Belgrade.
Note the images of Emperor Nicholas II and King Alexander I Karageorgievich

For nearly 90 years the Russian House, situated in the very heart of old Belgrade, has been a spiritual and cultural center aimed to promote Russian language and culture. The Neoclassical style building on Kraljice Natalije [Queen Natalia[1] Street], is regarded as one of the most beautiful locations in the Serbian capital. It is recognized as the oldest Russian cultural center in Europe, one of 44 Russian Cultural Centers worldwide.

During the early 20th century, the October Revolution of 1917 and the subsequent Russian Civil War, each contributed to the mass resettlement of Russians in Serbia. In April 1919 and the early 1920s, the government of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes [2], welcomed tens of thousands of anti-Bolshevik Russian refugees.

The defeat of the White Russian Army under General Pyotr Nikolayevich Wrangel (1878-1928) in Crimea, resulted in a third wave of emigration (November-December 1920), of another 20,000 emigrants.

The Kingdom extended its hospitality as gratitude to Russia for the it’s intervention on the side of Serbia at the outbreak of WWI. Thus, the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, became home for 40,000 exiles from the Russian Empire of Emperor Nicholas II. The mass exodus of refugees from war-torn Bolshevik Russia, promted the founding of the State Commission for the Arrangement of Russian Refugees in Belgarde.

Built and financed by Russian emigres

The pain of losing their fatherland and the illusory hope of returning had always lived in the souls of those who, by the will of fate, ended up in a foreign land. And in an effort to preserve their world – the Russian world – everything that was so dear and sacred, everything which closely connected them to their homeland, the Russian community put forward the idea of ​​​​creating its own cultural center in Belgrade.

The Serbian public warmly responded to this idea. The center was constructed mainly with the money donated and raised by the Russian community. In addition, significant funds were allocated by the Yugoslav authorities. The architect was Vasily Baumgarten (1897–1962), a military engineer, ex-chief of engineering supplies of the Denikin Volunteer Army[3].

The idea of ​​the Russian community to establish its own cultural center in Belgrade was fervently supported by King Alexander I, Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church Varnava (1880-1937), as well as many Serbian politicians and cultural workers.

In 1928, the Russian Cultural Committee was founded in Belgrade under the auspices of academician-Slavist Aleksandar Belic (1876-1960), who graduated from the Imperial Moscow University, and who later became the president of the Serbian Royal Academy of Sciences. One of the main directions in the activity of Belic’s committee was to help in the creation of the cultural center.

On 22nd June 1931, the foundation stone of the building was laid, less than two years later, on 9th April 1933, the Russian House named after Emperor Nicholas II was officially opened. A charter with words comemorating Russian-Serbian brotherhood and a dedication to Nicholas II, as well as words of gratitude to King Alexander I, were laid in the building’s foundation. In addition, two plaques were installed – one for the “protector of the Serbs” Nicholas II and the other for the “protector of the Russians” Alexander I.

The opening of the Russian House of Emperor Nicholas II was attended by members of the royal family, headed by Queen Maria of Yugoslavia[4], Prime Minister Milan Srskich (1880-1937), and prominent representatives of the Yugoslav intelligentsia.

Why was the Russian House named in honour of Russia’s last Tsar and Emperor?

The Serbs were not only grateful to Nicholas II for the assistance he provided in their struggle for freedom and independence, but also for coming to their aid against Austro-Hungarian aggression in 1914. The idea of ​​the canonization of Nicholas Alexandrovich Romanov and the construction of a church in memory of the martyred emperor arose in Serbia in the 1920s, many years before his canonization by the Russian Orthodox Church. For many Serbs, Nicholas II is today recognized as the “greatest and most revered of all saints.”

The memory of Emperor Nicholas II’s life and reign is today honoured and celebrated throughout modern-day Serbia. On 7th May 2019, during the opening ceremony of the photo exhibition The Romanovs: the Tsar’s Ministry, in the Serbian Embassy in Moscow, Serbia’s Ambassador to Russia Slavenko Terzic stated: “I consider Nicholas II a great reformer and a patriot of his homeland. The challenges of the revolution were very tough, to which it was necessary to react harshly, but since the Russian emperor was a deeply religious man, he sacrificed himself and his family in order to save the Russian empire. Eternal memory to Nicholas II and eternal gratitude to him from Serbia and the Serbian people,” concluded Terzic.

Further reading: Click HERE to read my article Nicholas II through Serbian Eyes, originally published on 13th October 1920.

The Russian House in the post-war years, and during Nazi and Soviet occupation

During the interwar years, the Russian House became the center of cultural, scientific and religious life of the Russian emigrant community in Belgrade.

The monarchy, which had been established in Yugoslavia since January 1929, followed by the assassination of King Alexander I in October 1934, and the period of the regency of Prince Pavel Karageorgievich only strengthened the foreign policy vector of Belgrade. Up until June 1940, royal Yugoslavia took the side of the White Russian movement, and officially ignored the existence of Soviet Russia, a brave and noble political feat for which they must be honoured.

The situation changed, however, in March 1941 after a coup d’etat, a result of which a regency was set up under Prince Paul of Yugoslavia, also known as Paul Karađorđević (1893-1976). After Paul declared Yugoslavia’s accession to the Tripartite Pact in late March 1941, a pro-British coup d’état deposed the regent and declared Peter II (1923-1970), who would reign as the last king of Yugoslavia and the last reigning member of the Karađorđević dynasty. In response, Axis forces invaded Yugoslavia ten days later and quickly overran the country, forcing the king and his ministers into exile.

After the capture and dismemberment of Yugoslavia by the Third Reich and its allies during the short-lived April War of 1941, Serbia came under Nazi occupation and the formal control of the puppet government of Milan Nedić (1877-1946). The occupying authorities installed the “Russian Trust Bureau” in the Russian House, to “protect the interests of the Russian diaspora”.

According to Monarchist General Mikhail Skorodumov, “the cellars in the Russian House, were filled with hungry Russian refugees. As a result, and with great difficulty, a free canteen was created, however, this did little to alleviate the problem…” Later, Skorodumov formed the Russian Security Corps for punitive operations against local communists with the prospect of sending the latter to the Eastern Front in the ranks of the Wehrmacht.

In 1944, the Russian House was badly damaged during fierce battles between the Red Army and the Belgrade Strategic Offensive Operation for the liberation of of the city from Nazi invaders. In addition, the Russian House library (created in 1920, and moved from the building of the Royal Academy of Sciences), lost almost all of its extensive pre-war collections: books, old newspapers and magazines from the library heated the boiler room of the Russian House during the cold months of the war.

In the post World War II period, the Socialist-Government of Yugoslavia handed over the building to the Soviet Union, whereupon the Russian House of Emperor Nicholas II was renamed the Home of Soviet Culture. In 1994, the building was officially renamed the Russian Center of Science and Culture — The Russian House.

In defiance of the bombing of Yugoslavia by NATO forces in 1999, the Russian House remained open daily, despite the fact that some events had to be carried out then under extreme conditions, including the building being hit by shell fragments. On 24th May, when electricity was cut off throughout Belgrade, the celebration of the Day of Slavic Literature and Culture took place by candlelight – a tradition which continues to be held annually.

Today, the Russia House includes a theater, a 390-seat cinema and concert hall, a 2100 square foot exhibition and conference hall, a gymnasium, a sports hall, an elementary school, and even a house church named in honour of the Protection of Our Most Holy Lady Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary. 

The center offers Russian language courses, a publishing center, the Matryoshka Children’s Studio of Russian Folk Dance, and the Sergei Rachmaninov School of Music. The center’s public library boasts a collection of 60,000 books, and is considered one of the largest Russian libraries in Europe. In May 2015, an electronic reading room of the Boris Yeltsin Presidential Library, located in St. Petersburg was opened in the multimedia center of the Russian House Library.

The Russia House is also home to the Museum of Nicholas II [opened in June 1936], the Museum of the Russian Cavalry, the Society of Russian Writers, Artists and Musicians, and the Russian Scientific Institute (founded in 1928 and moved from the house of the former Embassy of the Russian Empire). The center receives over two thousand visitors a day.

It is interesting to note, that in 2022, an estimated 30,000 to 50,000 Russians moved to Serbia, many of them opponents to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

PHOTO: Aleksandar Vasilevich Chepurin, who served as Russia’s ambassador to Serbia (from 2012-2019), at the unveiling ceremony of the bust to Nicholas II in the Russian House, Belgrade

In addition, the Russian House has exhibition material, which includes a vast collection of films and books. It is involved in the organization of various festivals, conferences and other cultural events in Belgrade and throughout Serbia. In recent years, the Russian House in Belgrade has hosted a number of exhibitions and government sponsored events honouring Russia’s last Tsar.

On 25th December 2013, a bronze bust of Emperor Nicholas II was unveiled in the foyer of the library in the Russian House with the participation of the International Foundation for the Unity of Orthodox Nations. The bust was the work of the eminent Russian sculptor, Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Klykov (1938-2006). The pedestal of was designed by the famous Serbian sculptor Miodrag Živković. The installation of the bust marked the 400th anniversary of the Romanov Dynasty and the 80th anniversary of the Russian House in Belgrade.

PHOTO: poster for the photo-exhibition Meeting the Russian Emperor (above), and opening day of the exhibit at Russian House in Belgrade, on 5th April 2017 (below)

From 5th April to 3rd May 2017, the Russian House hosted a photo-exhibition Meeting the Russian Emperor, dedicated to the life and reign of Emperor Nicholas II (1868-1918). The exhibition was a joint project prepared by the Russian Tsar Studio in Belgrade and the Sretensky Monastery in Moscow.

The exhibition was dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the death and martyrdom of the last Russian Emperor and his family, which took place in July 2018. The travelling exhibition, which during the first six months had been held in dozens of cities in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro. The exhibit showcased photographs to better acquaint the Serbs with the image of the Holy Royal Martyrs, and their pious and private family lives. 

The ceremonies marking the opening of the exhibition, were crowned by the Orlic Children’s Church Choir, under the direction of Elena Pavlovich, who performed several Russian spiritual songs, and closing with the Russian Imperial Anthem “God, Save the Tsar!” [refer to Video No. 6 in the playlist]

Upon its closing, the photo-exhibition reopened at the Memorial Museum of King Peter I Karađorđević, also in Belgrade.

PHOTO: on 15th May, the photo-exhibition reopened at the Museum of King Peter I Karađorđević

PHOTO: Serbian Patriarch Irinej and Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill attending the unveiling and consecration of the monument to Nicholas II in Belgrade, on 16th November 2014

The Russian House is situated near Park Aleksandrov, bounded by the streets of Kralja Milana on the east, Kosovke devojke on the north and Kraljice Natalije[1] on the west. 

On 16th November 2014, a large monument to Emperor Nicholas II was installed in the park, on the site of the old Russian Empire[5]. The bronze monument, donated by the Russian Historical Society in Moscow, was sculpted by Andrey Kovalchuk and Gennady Pravotorov. The monument weighs 40 tons, and stands 7.5 m (25 ft) high, which includes a granite pedestal, the monument itself stands 3.5 m (11 ft).

The monument was jointly consecrated by the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill and the Serbian Patriarch Irinej (1930-2020), which was followed by a wreath laying ceremony. The unveiling ceremony was attended by the President of the Republic of Serbia Tomislav Nikolić,

The inscription on the pedestal which marks the words of Emperor Nicholas II, reads: “All my efforts will be directed to preserving the dignity of Serbia and in any case, Russia will not be indifferent to the fate of Serbia”.

His Holiness Patriarch Kirill addressed a multitude of people present with a brief homily, saying in particular:

“We are present at an event of historical significance – the blessing of the monument to the Holy Passion-Bearer, Tsar Nicholas II. Emperor Nicholas did so much to save Serbia and the whole Europe that it cannot be described in a few words. It is remarkable that the first monument in his honour outside of Russia has been erected here, in Belgrade.

“The Serbian people were cherishing the memory of Emperor Nicholas II even at the time when his name was forbidden to be pronounced aloud, at the time when one could only say something bad of him. However, the truth has a great power. Sometimes we see grass shooting through asphalt, life coming out in the open. The same is with the truth – it cannot be hidden under the asphalt or concrete; sooner or later it comes into life of next generations. The truth about the sacrificial heroic deed of Emperor Nicholas II has struggled through the ferroconcrete slab laid on his name.

“I would like to thank the people and the authorities of Serbia, as well as to all the compatriots who have done much to honour the memory of this great man in this remarkable monument.”

Serbian Patriarch Irinej pointed out that this was a great day for Belgrade, Serbia and the Serbian people in the country, in Serbian lands abroad. As he emphasized, the monument in King Milan Street was not just a monument, but also an image of a holy martyr. According to his words, one of those tragic links uniting our tow peoples was the fate of Tsar Nicholas and his family.

PHOTO: view of the Russia House in Belgrade, the oldest Russian cultural center in Europe

© Paul Gilbert. 12 October 2022

NOTES:

[1] Natalija Obrenović (1859-1941), known as Natalie of Serbia, she was Princess of Serbia from 1875 to 1882 and then Queen of Serbia from 1882 to 1889 as the wife of King Milan I of Serbia (1854-1901). A celebrated beauty during her youth, she was later regarded as one of the most beautiful queens in Europe.

[2] The Kingdom of Yugoslavia was a state in Southeast and Central Europe that existed from 1918 until 1941. The preliminary kingdom was formed in 1918 by the merger of the provisional State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs (itself formed from territories of the former Austria-Hungary,

From 1918 to 1929, it was officially called the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, but the term “Yugoslavia” (literally “Land of South Slavs”) was its colloquial name due to its origins.

The state was ruled by the Serbian dynasty of Karađorđević, which previously ruled the Kingdom of Serbia under Peter I from 1903 (after the May Coup) onward. Peter I became the first king of Yugoslavia until his death in 1921. The official name of the state was changed to “Kingdom of Yugoslavia” by his successor King Alexander I on 3 October 1929.

[3] The Volunteer Army was formed by Anton Ivanovich Denikin (1872-1947), a Russian Lieutenant General in the Imperial Russian Army (1916), who later served as the Deputy Supreme Ruler of Russia during the Russian Civil War of 1917–1922.

His volunteers served as part of the White Army, who were active in South Russia during the Russian Civil War from 1917 to 1920. The Volunteer Army fought against Bolsheviks on the Southern Front and the Ukrainian War of Independence. In 1919 it was made part of the Armed Forces of South Russia, becoming the largest force of the White movement until it was merged with the Army of Wrangel in March 1920.

[4] Maria of Yugoslavia (born Princess Maria of Romania: 6th January 1900 – 22nd June 1961), her parents were Princess Marie of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha and Prince Ferdinand of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen – future Queen Marie and King Ferdinand of Roumania.

Known in Serbian as Marija Karađorđević, was Queen of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, later Queen of Yugoslavia, as the wife of King Alexander I from 1922 until his assassination in 1934. She was the mother of Peter II, the last reigning Yugoslav monarch. Her citizenship was revoked, and her property was confiscated by the Yugoslav communist regime in 1947, but she was “rehabilitated” in 2014.

[5] The old Russian Embassy was constructed in 1919. The embassy was initially used by the Russian deputy Vasiliy Nikolayevich Strandman (1873-1963), who represented the White Guard government, under the leadership of General Kolchak. In 1924, when the Russian mission was closed by the decision of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, the embassy building became the headquarters of the Delegation for the Protection of the Interests of Russian Refugees, and Strandman became the head of the Delegation. Nevertheless, the state flag and coat of arms of the Russian Empire remained on the facade of the embassy building until September 1939.

During the battle for the liberation of Belgrade in the Second World War, in October 1944, a German bomb severely damaged the embassy building. After the war, the building was completely demolished and a park built in its place.

God, Save the Tsar! Боже, Царя храни!

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Imperial Anthem of the Russian Empire

God, Save the Tsar! (Russian: Боже, Царя храни!; transliteration: Bozhe, Tsarya khrani!) was the national anthem of the former Russian Empire. The song was chosen from a competition held in 1833 and was first performed on 6th December (O.S. 23 November) 1833. The composer was violinist Alexei Lvov, and the lyrics were by the court poet Vasily Zhukovsky. 

In 1833, Tsar Nicholas I (1796-1855) ordered Count Alexey Fyodorovich Lvov (1799-1870), the violinist and army general who was his court composer and aide-de-camp, to compose new music to replace the air that since 1816 had served as the music for the Russian Empire’s Anthem God Save the Tsar, namely Henry Hugh Carey’s God, Save the King. The lyrics of “God Save the Tsar” (Bozhe Tsarya Khranii) date from 1815 and came from Prayers of the Russian People by Vasily Andreyevich Zhukovsky (1783-1852), an officer and poet who served as tutor to the Tsesarevich Alexander Nikolayevich, the future Tsar-Liberator Alexander II.

After some initial creative difficulties, the melody that would serve as the anthem of the Russian Empire for the remainder of its existence came to Lvov in the course of a single night’s inspiration; he succeeded in creating a work of majesty and power that was suitable for the army, the church and the people – indeed, for the entire realm. None other than the great Alexander Pushkin himself reworked Zhukovsky’s verses to adapt them to Lvov’s new hymn. It was the first national anthem in Russian history to feature music and lyrics by Russian authors.

Upon hearing its beautiful strains for the first time, Nicholas I ordered the work repeated several times. At the close of the final rendition, the Tsar – a stern and military-minded ruler who was to be vilified by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels as the “Gendarme of Europe” for his crushing of the forces of revolution wherever they appeared – clasped the composer’s hand with tears in his eyes and uttered the single word: “Splendid!”

The public premier of God, Save the Tsar took place on 6 December (O.S. 23rd November) 1833 at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow, where it was performed by a choir of one hundred singers and two military bands. At Christmas that same year, by the Tsar’s personal order it was performed by military bands in every hall of the Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg. A week later, the Emperor issued a decree declaring the anthem a “civil prayer” to be performed at all parades and official ceremonies. As was the case with the Preobrazhensky March, the most widely-used arrangement for military band of God, Save the Tsar was created by Ferdinand Haase; it was the shortest anthem in the world at eight lines.

During the Coronation of Tsar Alexander II in 1855, Lvov led one thousand singers and two thousand musicians in a rendition of God Save the Tsar, the first performance of the anthem at a coronation. As Lvov directed the choir and orchestra, he, by means of galvanic batteries, set off forty-nine cannons, one by one, sometimes on the beat. At the conclusion, hundreds of Roman candles and rockets soared into the sky.

God, Save the Tsar! remained the Russian Empire’s national hymn until the February Revolution of 1917, after which the Worker’s Marseillaise was adopted as the new national anthem until the overthrow of the Russian Provisional Government in October of the same year.

Sources: Brandenburg Historica; Scenarios of Power (Wortman, Richard S.)

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LYRICS

Русский

Боже, Царя храни!
Сильный, державный,
Царствуй на славу, на славу нам!

Царствуй на страх врагам,
Царь православный!
Боже, Царя храни!

English translation

God, save the Tsar!
Strong, sovereign,
Reign for glory, For our glory!

Reign to foes’ fear,
Orthodox Tsar.
God, save the Tsar!

Below, are a selection of videos which present a variety of renditions of God, Save the Tsar! Боже, Царя храни!, performed by Russian Orthodox and professional choir ensembles – courtesy of YouTube:

1. Beautiful rendition of God, Save the Tsar! with vintage newsreels of the Imperial family. Duration: 2 minutes, 38 seconds

2. Performed by the Kuban Cossack Choir. Duration: 1 minute, 38 seconds

3. Performed by the Mikhailovsky Theatre Orchestra and Choir.
Duration: 1 minute, 46 seconds

4. Performed by Varya Strizhak. Duration: 3 minutes, 19 seconds

5. Performed by the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, and the State Academic Choir.
Duration: 2 minutes, 33 seconds

6. Performed by the Orlic Children’s Church Choir (Serbia).
Duration: 1 minute, 24 seconds

7. Performed by The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards. Duration: 1 minute, 4 seconds

8. Performed by the Columbia Military Band in 1914.
Duration: 3 minutes, 16 seconds

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© Paul Gilbert. 11 October 2022